Panaji: Sanal Sasidharan is not giving up. He has been persistently questioning the intent of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) authorities and the government for not screening his film S Durga even after a court order.
The film was dropped at the last minute by the Union information and broadcasting ministry. Excerpts from a chat with the filmmaker, who is staying put at the festival in Goa:
What do you have to say about your film not being screened at IFFI despite a court order?
The court has issued an order but the festival authorities have not screened our film. Besides being a brazen attitude towards the judiciary, it is an open challenge to the Constitution. When the judiciary orders, it is the duty of the government to execute the order.
Is 'Durga' in the title of the film shown as an object of desire?
No, not at all. The film was screened at MAMI (a Mumbai film festival) and got the jury special award.... I maintain what I have said in the past - the film has nothing against Goddess Durga or any religion.
Do you think you are being targeted because the government at the Centre is Right-wing and is, therefore, raising issues around the title of the film?
More than the nation being a democracy, it is a mobocracy. Our population has a vast majority of stupid people, who indulge in such emotional atrocities without even thinking; they don't even ask for the cause. They are running behind a huge mass without any reason. It is ridiculous and a very stupid thing.
Why did you compromise on the title of the film ?
The film was originally called Sexy Durga. I dropped the name as I wanted people to watch my film.
What do you have to say to information and broadcasting minister Smriti Irani?
She seems to be a lady who works for women's empowerment, so she must at least see the film. After so much controversy, she should take out 90 minutes to see the film. If she had seen the film, she would know there is nothing.
What is happening is ridiculous. In a country where we believe thousands of cultures co-exist and we boast of having a huge democracy, when there is difference of opinion, people behave like animals.
In the name of Hinduism, they are doing all this because they don't know what is Hinduism.... A lot of people call me and threaten to beat me for using the name Durga. I had to explain to them that it is not the goddess.... The name of my heroine in the film is Durga.
Under the law, does the ministry have the right to drop a film chosen by the jury?
No, it does not. There is an arbitration clause which says the jury's decision is final and binding on all parties, including the government. Then why is the government choosing a jury and taking money from the filmmaker? The money they are spending is taxpayers' money. If the government had the right to overrule the jury, why didn't they contest that in the court? The order is also in my favour.